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International ambitions: DWF picks Dubai for its first international office

DWF has chosen Dubai as the location for its first international office as it targets rising levels of construction work in the MENA region with a team of four lawyers including a construction partner hired from Holland & Knight.

The 1000 sqft office located in the Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC), the firm’s first outside of the UK and Ireland, will focus on construction, energy, insurance and transport. Managing partner and chief executive Andrew Leaitherland said the firm had ‘a pipeline of work from existing clients already underway so we’re off to a very strong start and look forward to consolidating our commitment to this hugely important region.’.

The team of four, which is led by insurance partner Chris Ryan and construction partner Steven Hunt, will advise on contentious and non-contentious construction matters, professional indemnity and non-marine insurance work. Ryan has been a partner at DWF since 2011, however Hunt joins from US-headquartered Holland & Knight, which decided to close its office in the region last year, having practised in the UAE for over 11 years.

The team, which also includes consultant Fernando Ortega and professional liability specialist Jeremy Speller, will be supported by a UK-based group, including partner and head of international, Peter Campion, and head of adjusting, Keith Honeyman, who have both done work in the MENA region before.

In a statement, Leaitherland said this was ‘a real opportunity’ for DWF, adding: ‘We’ve supported clients in Dubai and across the MENA region for many years and it’s become increasingly clear that there is demand for our services on the ground, particularly in relation to construction and insurance work.’

Watson Farley & Williams opened its first office in the region in September last year with asset finance partner partner Andrew Baird leading the way to establish the outpost.